A Life of Discipleship

A couple of Christ-followers. Grateful for their lives of discipleship. 


Scripture:

Luke 17:1   Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2 It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

Observation:

Jesus was talking to his disciples and there were two sides to the conversation. He was talking about the disciples’ own spiritual growth and the fact that there would be plenty of opportunities to stumble. It was a warning against hubris, or thinking too much of their own spiritual growth and development. Humility was to rule their lives. 

At the same time, the disciples were to carefully disciple those who were within their care, or realm of influence. The power of influence was great, and so was the responsibility that came with that influence. They were never to be the cause of others sinning, whether by tempting them, or setting a bad example. The warning from the Lord was stern and the consequences devastating for those disciples who led weaker brothers or sisters astray. 

The life of discipleship is one in which we live with mutual accountability. One brother or sister doesn’t allow the other brother or sister to sin, but rather mentors and helps to shine a light on the path in which their choices may be leading. The call to forgiveness is rather radical for it emphasizes the need for the mature disciple to forgive again and again. Just as a person who is unwell visits the doctor who will treat them again and again, so we are to never turn our backs on those who genuinely repent. Even if they have wronged us personally, we must be willing to forgive, for this is the life of discipleship. 

Application:

There can be no discipleship without accountability. Jesus’ lays out the system before us in this passage of scripture:

  • Intentional instruction is necessary for on-going spiritual growth and development in the life of a believer. Jesus continued teaching the disciples until the moment he went up in to heaven, and then he left them the Holy Spirit to continue the communication and discipleship training. Anyone who thinks that they have arrived has the wrong impression of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

  • There is an expectation that mature disciples are to live their lives in such a way that they are not a stumbling block to others. In other words, a life of discipleship will lead to making disciples. The life of a disciple is to be a reflection of Christ in this world. Paul spoke of refraining from the eating of meat offered to idols because he didn’t want to make others stumble. What “rights” or liberties might we claim that may infringe upon the weaknesses of others, causing them to stumble? Am I willing to refrain from certain activities so that I will not be a stumbling block to others? A disciple puts the needs of the younger disciple above their own personal wants, “rights” and/or desires. 

  • A system of accountability should be established in which we are able to correct one another. This is a tricky thing for there are always those who are ready to point out our faults. It does mean, however, that we may need to find those whose voices we trust and make ourselves vulnerable before them, allowing them to speak into the areas of our lives which may need some correction. We must also be careful not to be the one who is constantly pointing out other peoples’ short-comings, becoming the pied piper of legalism. Discipleship is about a relationship, one that is built on trust, and only from this place can correction occur. 

  • We should all have a burden for others to come to Christ and to grow in his grace. Working with people who are in the mess of this world can be a real challenge. Inevitably there will be disappointments but we are called to be realistic. Forgiving someone over and over again can be an exhausting experience, but we are certainly grateful that our Lord has been willing to extend grace to us over and over again. We are asked to extend that same grace to those who may wrong us, and to show forgiveness. It is in forgiveness that healing can come, both to the one who wronged, and the one who was wronged. Holding onto our own pain because of an unwillingness to forgive will only create more harm to our own lives. 

We are all called into a life of discipleship that draws us into a deeper walk with Jesus Christ, one that is laden with responsibility. Let us walk this journey together, remembering that we are all inter-connected, and responsible for one another.

Prayer:


Lord, following after you is the desire of my heart. Amen. 

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